SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced a 40-day lineup of entertainment and special events for the 2019 season at Saratoga Race Course, which will begin with Opening Day, Thursday, July 11 and run through Monday, September 2.

Gates open at 11 a.m. each day, including weekends, with the exception of Travers Day, Saturday, August 24. Post time for the first race on Opening Day is 1 p.m.

The event schedule will feature a number of new happenings alongside returning traditions and perennial favorites. Coca-Cola will return as the official sponsor of the Saratoga Pavilion, the on-track venue where NYRA hosts 40 days of special events. The Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion is where fans will gather to enjoy the majority of event activities during the summer meet.

Weekends at the Spa will now feature a popular event series with the addition of Berkshire Bank Family Sundays. Previously held on Mondays, the weekly festival invites families and children to enjoy a wide array of free games, attractions and educational activities.

With the move to the weekend, Berkshire Bank Family Sundays is expected to draw more fans than ever before, supplemented by the nearby Berkshire Bank Family Zone, a smoke- and alcohol-free interactive play area for children. Additional features include a complimentary phone charging station, courtesy of Berkshire Bank, and a giant Adirondack-style chair designed for photo opportunities.

NYRA will continue its tradition of premium giveaways with four giveaway days: Sunday, July 14; Wednesday, August 7; Wednesday, August 21; and Sunday, September 1. The 2019 premium giveaway items will be announced in the near future.

Fans can save $2 on grandstand admission to Saratoga Race Course for Opening Weekend and Closing Week with a voucher available at participating Stewart's Shops and Saratoga Downtown Business Association locations. The voucher is valid for use July 11 to 13 and August 28 to September 2 (excluding September 1) through Ticketmaster.com. Limit one transaction per person.

OPENING DAY/SEASON PASS HOLDER GIVEAWAY: Thursday, July 11

The 2019 summer meet will kick-off with the traditional Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies. All season pass and season ticket holders in attendance will receive an exclusive giveaway: a white cooling towel featuring the red Saratoga logo. Available while supplies last on a first-come, first-served basis.

TASTE NY: WINE & SPIRITS: Every Thursday beginning July 11

Taste NY: Wine & Spirits will allow fans the opportunity to sample varietals of wine and spirits from numerous New York State wineries and distilleries. Live music will accompany the tasting each Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. in the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion. Guests will enjoy five samples for $5. Must be 21 years or older to participate.

LOW ROLLER CHALLENGE: Every Thursday and Sunday beginning July 11 & 14

Thursdays and Sundays will include the Low Roller Challenge which allows aspiring handicappers the opportunity to experience the thrill of tournament play for $40, with $30 going towards live bankroll and $10 to the prize pool. Registration begins at 11 a.m. near the Fourstardave Sports Bar.

DON JULIO THURSDAYS: Every Thursday beginning July 11

Fans are invited to sample drinks featuring Don Julio tequila each Thursday of the season from 3 to 5 p.m. outside the entrance to The Stretch.

MARIANO RIVERA DAY: Friday, July 12

NYRA will host National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and legendary New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera at Saratoga as part of Opening Weekend festivities. The visit comes one week before Rivera heads to Cooperstown where he will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the first unanimous selection in history. NYRA will honor Rivera with a special ceremony in the Winner's Circle in recognition of the all-time Major League Baseball saves leader. Secure your spot today for this historic event at NYRA.com/Rivera.

TASTE NY: CRAFT BEER & CIDER: Every Friday beginning July 12

Taste NY: Craft Beer & Cider will allow guests the opportunity to sample numerous craft beers and ciders produced exclusively by New York State breweries and cideries. Live music will accompany the tasting each Friday from noon to 5 p.m. in the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion. Guests will enjoy five samples for $5. Must be 21 years or older to participate.

SARATOGA COUNTY EOC FOOD DRIVE: Saturday, July 13

NYRA will welcome the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council (EOC) to Saratoga for its annual food and essential goods drive. Fans who donate at least three non-perishable items at the Community Outreach Booth will receive a free 2018 Saratoga baseball cap, while supplies last, and will be entered to win tickets to the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers and other great prizes.

FASHION SATURDAYS: Every Saturday beginning July 13

Designed to showcase the tradition of style in thoroughbred racing, the weekly event will feature women's and men's fashion apparel from local retailers such as The Pink Paddock, Miss Scarlett Boutique and The National, as well as a selection of home décor and jewelry items. The event will be held each Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion.

WOODFORD RESERVE BOURBON SATURDAYS: Every Saturday beginning July 13

Fans will be invited to enjoy specialty drinks and selections from Woodford Reserve at the Jim Dandy Bar each Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m.

KETEL ONE SATURDAYS: Every Saturday beginning July 13

Fans are invited to sample the new Ketel One Botanicals from 3 to 5 p.m. each Saturday outside the entrance to The Stretch.

28th ANNUAL HAT CONTEST PRESENTED BY MOET & CHANDON AND HAT SATIONA! BY DEI: Sunday, July 14

Fans will compete for great prizes in the 28th annual Hat Contest which features three categories: Kreative Kids, Fashionably Saratoga and Uniquely Saratoga. Registration begins at noon under the grandstand with the contests taking place after the second, third and fourth races.

BERKSHIRE BANK FAMILY SUNDAYS: Every Sunday beginning July 14

Berkshire Bank Family Sundays will feature a wide variety of free family-friendly activities, games, attractions and educational activities each Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion.

SARATOGA VISIT DAY: Wednesday, July 17

Fans will have the opportunity to experience Saratoga's leading attractions during the first Saratoga Visit Day. The Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion will serve as a one-stop location to learn about the world-class cultural attractions in Saratoga Springs and will provide fans with options to complement their visit to Saratoga Race Course. Participating organizations and attractions include: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery; National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame; Saratoga Arts District; Saratoga Automobile Museum; Saratoga Performing Arts Center; Saratoga Spa State Park; Saratoga Springs History Museum; and Yaddo Gardens.

MILITARY APPRECIATION DAY: Wednesday, July 24

Saratoga Race Course will pay tribute to active military members and veterans in appreciation of their sacrifice and service to our nation. The Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion will feature exhibits and activities throughout the day. All veterans and active duty military will receive free Grandstand admission with military ID. Veterans from World War II to those currently serving will be recognized prior to several of the day's races, including a special ceremony in the Winner's Circle following the third race.

PERMANENTLY DISABLED JOCKEYS' FUND AWARENESS DAY: Saturday, July 27

Saratoga Race Course will unite with racetracks across the country with autograph signings and photo opportunities as part of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund (PDJF) Day Across America.

PAINT AND SIP AT SARATOGA: Sunday, July 28

Fans are invited to create their own masterpieces during a Saratoga-themed Paint and Sip event in the Paddock Tent. Tickets are available by calling the NYRA Box Office at (844) NYRA-TIX.

TASTE NY: FOOD DAY: Wednesday, July 31

Taste NY: Food Day will welcome fans to enjoy a lively on-track market of numerous food vendors featuring products made exclusively in New York State, including crackers, granola, preserves, gelato, olive oil and dessert cakes. The market will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion.

WHITNEY WEEKEND AND THE FASIG-TIPTON FESTIVAL OF RACING, FEATURING THE TURF TRIPLE SERIES: Friday, August 2 - Sunday, August 4

The Fasig-Tipton Festival of Racing will be headlined by one of the meet's marquee races: the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on Saturday, August 3 in addition to the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test. The popular weekend will feature a new addition this summer: the debut of the Turf Triple series. The three-race series will showcase the best turf runners in the country and offer $5.25 million in purse money. The middle jewel of the Turf Tiara, the series restricted to 3-year-old fillies, will kick off Whitney weekend on Friday, August 2 with the inaugural $750,000 Saratoga Oaks. The middle leg of the Turf Trinity, the series restricted to 3-year-old males designed to emulate the American dirt classics, will bookend Whitney weekend with the inaugural $1 million Saratoga Derby on Sunday, August 4.

JOCKEY LEGENDS DAY PRESENTED BY FASIG-TIPTON: Sunday, August 4

Some of the greatest riders in the history of thoroughbred racing will gather at Saratoga Race Course for the sixth annual Jockey Legends Day. The day's activities will feature special appearances by some of the Spa's most accomplished riders and autograph signings with a suggested donation to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund.

SARA-"YOGA" PRESENTED BY MOET & CHANDON: Sunday, August 4; August 18

Fans are invited to enjoy a morning of yoga at Saratoga. The event includes a one-hour practice at the Top of the Stretch, followed by a light brunch in the Miller Lite Party Tent. Tickets are available by calling the NYRA Box Office at (844) NYRA-TIX.

FIRST RESPONDERS DAY: Wednesday, August 7

Saratoga Race Course will honor police officers, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics during First Responders Day. The Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion will feature interactive exhibits and activities throughout the day, in addition to fire engines and police cars on display. All first responders will receive free Grandstand admission with proper ID.

FABULOUS FILLIES DAY: Thursday, August 8

Saratoga Race Course will celebrate women and their contributions to the thoroughbred industry while raising funds to support The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Saratoga will also honor local breast cancer survivors in partnership with To Life! In addition, this year's event will feature some of the world's best professional female athletes who will be participating in the Aurora Games, the inaugural all-women's sports and entertainment festival at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY, on August 20-25.The day will also feature the return of the Best in Pink fashion contest for women and men, sponsored by vineyard vines. A highlight of the day will be the Sizzling Hot Pink Saratoga Hat Luncheon. This year's luncheon will honor Barbara Jo Rubin.

SARATOGA CHALLENGES: Friday, August 9 and Saturday, August 10

The pair of live money challenges will occur as two separate one-day contests. The Saratoga Challenge on Friday will be awarding cash prizes, as well as an entry to the 2020 Belmont Stakes Challenge and three entries to the 2020 National Horseplayers Championship. The Fourstardave Challenge on Saturday will be awarding cash prizes, as well as an entry to the 2020 Belmont Stakes Challenge and five entries to the 2020 National Horseplayers Championship. Both challenges will consist of wagering exclusively on Saratoga races through the following pools only: Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Trifecta, Quinella and Daily Double. Friday is a $1,000 minimum buy-in; Saturday is a $2,000 minimum buy-in. For more information about the Saratoga Challenges, visit NYRA.com/Challenge.

ADIRONDACKS DAY: Wednesday, August 14

Saratoga Race Course will highlight the majestic Adirondacks region, including the home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid. The day-long event at the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion will feature activities, exhibits and entertainment which showcase the great attractions of the Adirondacks in upstate New York.

LUSTGARTEN FOUNDATION DAY: Sunday, August 18

Saratoga will honor the legacy of trainer Dominic Galluscio with a day to benefit The Lustgarten Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance scientific and medical research related to pancreatic cancer.

NEW YORK SPORTS DAY: Wednesday, August 21

Fans will have the opportunity to learn about the many teams and leagues with a home field advantage in the Capital Region during New York Sports Day at Saratoga. Participating teams and colleges include the Tri-City ValleyCats, Adirondack Thunder, University at Albany and Siena Athletics. The Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion will feature exhibits and activities from local sports teams from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

STEWART'S ICE CREAM EATING CONTEST: Wednesday, August 21

Racing fans will compete in the ultimate in chilly contests at the Stewart's Ice Cream Eating Contest. Contestants will be divided into three age groups - kids, teens and adults - as they battle to see who can eat a pint of ice cream the fastest. The competition will take place in the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion.

NEW YORK SHOWCASE DAY: Friday, August 23

Travers weekend will kick off with New York Showcase Day, featuring six stakes races exclusively for New York-breds, including the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds, $200,000 Funny Cide for budding New York-bred stars and the $150,000 West Point Stakes presented by Trustco.

TRAVERS DAY: Saturday, August 24

The 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers will be the centerpiece of a supercharged Travers Day. Joining the Mid-Summer Derby for 3-year-olds will be five other Grade 1 stakes: the $850,000 Sword Dancer Invitational at 1 ½ miles on the turf, the $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina for filly and mare sprinters, the $600,000 Forego at seven furlongs, the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial presented by Runhappy for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, and the $700,000 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles. Rounding out the blockbuster card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa for turf fillies and mares.

ITALIAN & IRISH AMERICAN DAY: Wednesday, August 28

The day-long celebration of Italian and Irish heritage will feature traditional music, dance, food, entertainment and games at the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

FAN APPRECIATION WEEK: Wednesday, August 28 - Monday, September 2

NYRA will thank its fans with a series of special events, activities and offers during closing week of the 2019 season.

CLOSING DAY: Monday, September 2

The 2019 meet will come to a close with the traditional final feature race, the 115th running of the Grade 1, $350,000 Runhappy Hopeful for 2-year-olds, which affords racing fans a preview of potential standouts in next year's Triple Crown series and Travers.

Season ticket plans, weekly ticket plans, reserved seats, reserved tables in the Miller Lite Picnic Paddock and the Fourstardave Sports Bar, dining and group hospitality are currently on sale and available for purchase at NYRA.com/Saratoga.

Season admission passes may be purchased online at NYRA.com/Saratoga and in-person at nearly 150 Stewart's Shops locations throughout the Capital Region. A season pass provides fans with admission to all 40 days of world-class thoroughbred racing at Saratoga Race Course. The cost for a 2019 Grandstand season pass is $50. A Clubhouse season pass is $75. Season passes do not include reserved seating.

Following Opening Weekend, Thursday, July 11 through Sunday, July 14, racing at Saratoga will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays. Closing week will run Wednesday, August 28 through Labor Day, Monday, September 2.

For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit NYRA.com/Saratoga.

Follow Stan Hudy on Twitter @StanHudy

Sportswriter

Stan Hudy has been a sportswriter with The Saratogian, Troy Record and Community News for the past two decades covering high school and local sports in the Capital Region.

comments powered by Disqus